Self-portrait

Object Details

Title:

Self-portrait

Artist/Maker(s):

Edgar Degas (French, 1834 - 1917)

Culture:

French

Date:

1857 - 1858

Medium:

Oil on paper, laid down on canvas

Dimensions:

21 x 16.2 cm (8 1/4 x 6 3/8 in.)

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In this self-portrait a young Edgar Degas turns his head to look out at the spectator. He wears casual clothes, including an open collar and broad brimmed hat. The informal, extreme close-up view of Degas's face and his impassive, almost sullen expression echo the unpretentiousness of his clothing. The small-scale, informal presentation and lightness of touch emphasize the intimacy of this image and the still-tentative character of the young artist.

Around 1857, when he was twenty-three or twenty-four, Degas traveled to Italy, where he spent much of his time making copies after Renaissance masters. The period was one of self-education and he drew prolifically, writing in one of his notebooks, "I must thoroughly realize I know nothing at all; it is the only way to get ahead." Finding in himself a willing sitter, he made fifteen or more self-portraits in various media during his time in Italy.

Provenance
- 1917

Edgar Degas, French, 1834 - 1917 (Paris, France), by inheritance to his brother, René de Gas, 1917.

René de Gas, 1845 - 1921 (Paris, France), by inheritance to Odette de Gas and Roland Nepveu.

Odette de Gas, 1887 - 1932 (Paris, France)

and Roland Nepveu, 1885 - 1962 (Paris, France), by inheritance to Arlette Nepveu-Degas.

- 1994

Arlette Nepveu-Degas Devade (Paris, France) [sold, Nepveu-Degas sale, Ader Tajan, Paris, December 19, 1994, lot 10]

- 1995

Artemis Fine Arts Ltd., sold to the J. Paul Getty Museum, 1995.

Exhibitions
Portrait Drawings 1500 - 1900 (January 30 to May 12, 1996) (no cat.)
  • The J. Paul Getty Museum, (Malibu), January 30 to May 12, 1996
The Compositional Drawing from the 16th to the 19th Century (April 16 to June 30, 1996) (no cat.)
  • The J. Paul Getty Museum, (Malibu), April 16 to June 30, 1996
Master Drawings from the J. Paul Getty Museum (December 16, 1997 to February 22, 1998) (no cat.)
  • The J. Paul Getty Museum at the Getty Center, (Los Angeles), December 16, 1997 to February 22, 1998
Edgar Degas, Photographer (October 8, 1998 to August 22, 1999) (ex cat.)
  • The Metropolitan Museum of Art, (New York), October 8, 1998 to January 3, 1999
  • The J. Paul Getty Museum at the Getty Center, (Los Angeles), February 2 to March 28, 1999
Degas and America: The Early Collectors (March 3 to September 9, 2001) (Cat. 8)
  • High Museum of Art, (Atlanta), March 3 to May 27, 2001
  • The Minneapolis Institute of Arts, (Minneapolis), June 16 to September 9, 2001
Degas at the Getty (March 7 to June 11, 2006) (no cat.)
  • The J. Paul Getty Museum at the Getty Center, (Los Angeles), March 7 to June 11, 2006
Degas: Master of French Art (December 12, 2008 to March 22, 2009) (Cat. 1)
  • National Gallery of Australia, (Canberra), December 12, 2008 to March 22, 2009
Degas and Rembrandt: Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man (June 28 to May 20, 2012) (Cat. 1)
  • Rijksmuseum, (Amsterdam), June 28 to October 25, 2011
  • The Metropolitan Museum of Art, (New York), February 22 to May 20, 2012
Images of the Artist (November 15, 2011 to February 12, 2012) (Cat. 1)
  • The J. Paul Getty Museum at the Getty Center, (Los Angeles), November 15, 2011 to February 12, 2012
Bibliography

Ader Tajan, Paris. Edgar Degas (1834-1917). Collection Nepveu-Degas. Important ensemble de dessins, huiles et bronze. December 19, 1994, unpaginated, lot 10, ill., cover ill.

Artemis 94-95: Consolidated Audited Annual Report (1996), pp. 30-31, no. 10, ill.

Jaffé, David. Summary Catalogue of European Paintings in the J. Paul Getty Museum (Los Angeles: J. Paul Getty Museum, 1997), p. 33, ill.

Turner, Nicholas, and Lee Hendrix. Masterpieces of the J. Paul Getty Museum: Drawings. (Los Angeles: J. Paul Getty Museum, 1997), p. 110, no. 90, ill.

Brugnara, Krista. Master Drawings from the J. Paul Getty Museum, exh. brochure (Los Angeles: J. Paul Getty Museum, 1997), unpaginated, fig. 4.

Daniel, Malcolm. "The Atmosphere of Lamps or Moonlight." In Edgar Degas, Photographer, exh. cat. (New York: Metropolitan Museum of Art, with Harry N. Abrams, 1998), pp. 34-35, fig. 16.

Turner, Nicholas. European Drawings: Catalogue of the Collections, vol. 4 (Los Angeles: J. Paul Getty Museum, 2001), pp. 182-83, no. 64, ill.

Dumas, Ann, et al. Degas and America: The Early Collectors, exh. cat. (Atlanta: High Museum of Art, with Rizzoli, 2001), pp. 98-99, no. 8, ill., entry by Mary Morton.

Kinsman, Jane, and Michael Pantazzi. Degas: The Uncontested Master, exh. cat. (Canberra: National Gallery of Australia, 2008), pp. 40-41, no. 1, ill., entry by Jane Kinsman.

Reynaerts, Jenny, and Stella Versluis-Van Dongen. "A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man: Edgar Degas Inspired by Rembrandt." The Rijksmuseum Bulletin 59, no. 2 (2011), pp. 118-19, fig. 14.

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